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Legendary Locals: RSM Local—the New Howard Stern?
by: Debbie L. Sklar
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Thanks to Roberts, O.C. has its very own radio show.
Thanks to Roberts, O.C. has its very own radio show.

Look out Howard Stern and other top radio personalities, Paul Roberts has arrived.

Roberts, 54, of Rancho Santa Margarita, recently launched his own radio station, OC Talk Radio (www.OCTalkradio.net), which he says serves as OC's first (and only) "community station" to stimulate conversations between businesses, community groups and all the extra-ordinary people in Orange County.

“I’ve always been fascinated with communications and broadcasting,” he says. “I remember reading the morning announcements in high school each day. I went on to run the student radio station at the University of Michigan and I worked as a professional DJ immediately after at WMYK in Virginia Beach, Va.”

Roberts says just as people are now able to set up professional recording studios in their homes and sell their music directly to the public (bypassing the record companies and their expensive distribution chain altogether), so too, can someone create a professional broadcast studio in their own house streaming live over the Internet.

“We're like a ‘garage band’ (or ‘garage bandwidth’ if you like!), but with the digital equipment available today, we're actually able to create a professional sound that equals or exceeds anything I ever experienced in my professional broadcast career 20 years ago,” he says.

Roberts says he decided to start his own radio station after reassessing his current status.

“I looked at my life and realized that I needed to reinvent myself (like so many others) after the recent financial meltdown,” he says.

More than just a radio station, Roberts is hoping for something else.

“It's plain to see that all forms of media are quickly moving to the Internet. That's hurt traditional media outlets (like newspapers and traditional radio or TV stations). But it's opened up a whole new frontier for niche media outlets such as O.C. Talk Radio. We don't have to reach a ‘mass audience’ with a ‘one-size-fits-all model.’ Instead, we can ‘stimulate conversations’ directly between businesses, community groups and their local audience. And all with much lower costs and greater returns.”

And why does he think RSM needs a local radio station?

“As traditional media outlets continue to downsize or disappear, it's clear that what suffers first and foremost is ‘local coverage.’ Take RSM for example, with fewer reporters and pages to publish their news, papers like the Orange County Register and LA Times are increasingly focusing on major stories only (getting their articles from national wire services instead of local field reporters). It's even worse with traditional TV stations that have fewer field reporters covering an ever wider marketplace. The just can't cover Orange County any more with their decreasing number of local bureaus and distant TV trucks,” he says.

But, he says through the power of the Internet, the slack can be picked up and actually allow local businesses, community groups and their audience to talk directly with one another.

“It's never been done like this before,” he says. “It's a new ‘social medium’ that takes social media to an amazing new level. At mid-life, it's given me a whole new career and excitement again. In a weird way, it's brought me back to where I started but in a whole new way.”

Married to Jan, an operations specialist for a national bank, the couple has a daughter Vanessa, who plays basketball for Tesoro High School.

Roberts himself graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Michigan and attended law school for one year at William & Mary in Williamsburg, Va.


Debbie L. Sklar is a 20+year journalism veteran residing in Southern California, where she is a writer, columnist and editor for many local, regional and national publications. Sklar may be reached via e-mail at DebbieSklar@cox.net
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